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2017 VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 1


From WWII Veterans to Today’s Young Military

A Fisher House for All

Fisher House Salutes Gold Star Mothers (Story on page 12)

Guest Family Profile Congressman Brian Mast (Story on page 4)

Fisher House Program by the


$360+ Million

Savings for Families in Lodging and Transportation Costs


Days of Lodging Offered


305 Thousand Families Served


Fisher Houses in Operation

The statistics in this graphic are calculated since the Fisher House program’s inception.

Charity Ratings: A+ Fisher House Foundation works hard to be a good steward of the resources entrusted to us. It is a privilege to do the work we do, and we are proud to hold the highest ratings awarded by the top national charity watch dog organizations. Fisher House Foundation has received an A+ from CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) in their “Veterans and Military” category. Out of 55 charities rated, Fisher House Foundation is one of only three charities to receive their distinctive A+ rating. Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation their coveted 4-star rating for sound fiscal management for the 13th consecutive year, a rating achieved by less than one percent of the charities in the country that they monitor.

Contents Social Media Support


7 Million Nights of Lodging


Guest Family­Profile: The Mast Family


Founders Day


Journal Entries


Radio Report


Vietnam Veteran Lifts


Meet the Staff


Fisher House Salutes


Hero Miles/Hotel for Heroes


Sinise Visits Tripler Fisher House


Team Fisher House


Cover Story: Bridging the Gap Between DoD and VA


Hearts in the Community


Meet the Manager


House Round-Up


Fisher House Dedications


A Special Manager for A Special Home


Community Groups in Action


Down Range


Fisher House Directory


FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION CHAIRMAN AND CEO Kenneth Fisher PRESIDENT David A. Coker CHIEF OF STAFF Mary Considine EXECUTIVE EDITOR Kerri Childress MANAGING EDITOR Ashley Estill LAYOUT AND ART DIRECTION ds+f Address all correspondence to: The Patriot Fisher House Foundation 111 Rockville Pike Suite 420 Rockville, Maryland 20850 Phone: (301) 294-8560 Fax: (301) 294-8562 Email:

About Fisher House Foundation, Inc. The Fisher House program provides a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes provide free temporary lodging so military and veterans’ families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis. Recognizing the special sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, and their families, Fisher House Foundation helps by meeting a humanitarian need outside the scope offered by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. This is a unique program, a private-public partnership to support America’s military heroes, both veterans and active duty service members, in their time of need. Each Fisher House is located on the grounds of major military and VA Medical Centers in the United States, as well as locations in Europe. Our houses provide a comforting, first-class “home away from home” while loved ones receive care in an unfamiliar environment — all at NO COST to the service member, veterans, or their families. This special support is very important during the most stressful time — the hospitalization of a loved one. Each Fisher House provides all the comforts of home — a spacious dining, living, laundry and family room, kitchen, and private bedrooms for families to retreat and rejuvenate after a stressful day at the hospital. While the road to recovery is different for every family, one thing remains the same — Fisher House is there to provide comfort and compassion.

families in need. Other Quality of Life programs include the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs, ongoing assistance to Fisher Houses, scholarships, support for continuing rehabilitation initiatives, and individual assistance to members of the military and their families during a crisis. By contributing to Fisher House Foundation or any individual Fisher House facility, you can make a difference in the lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families when they need help the most. Fisher House Foundation and individual Fisher Houses depend on public donations to continue our important work. If you designate your contribution for a specific purpose or Fisher House, the Foundation will allocate 100 percent of your donation for that purpose. Furthermore, Fisher House Foundation never discloses the names of its donors to any other individuals or organizations without expressed permission, and does not solicit contributions by direct mail or telephone. Once built, each Fisher House is gifted to the U.S. government for operation. Military service secretaries and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the homes. Fisher House Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, builds new houses, assists in coordinating private support and encourages public support for the homes. Donations to Fisher House Foundation or individual Fisher Houses are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law.

In addition to constructing new houses, Fisher House Foundation continues to support existing Fisher Houses and help individual military Fisher House Foundation thanks Don Schaaf & Friends, Inc. in Washington, D.C. for your donated services in designing The Patriot.

LETTER FROM KEN FISHER Dear Friends, We are trying something a little different in this issue of the Patriot. Rather than one cover story, we have three. Additionally, we have a thought provoking editorial by a friend and someone who has dedicated her life to our military and veterans, VA’s former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, Rosemary Williams. What we are hoping to illustrate is another aspect of Fisher Houses — how they bridge the gap between a family’s active duty service and civilian life, and how Fisher Houses will be there for your entire life. The stories also show the wide range of reasons people need Fisher Houses. From a baby who needs care for a rare blood disease, to a 93-year-old Navy fighter pilot with heart issues who flew during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The wars may be winding down, but the need for medical care and consequently Fisher Houses continues to grow. In fact, this year we will break ground on six more Fisher Houses, including two in the Bronx — near where I grew up, something I am very proud of. Additionally, we are currently building homes in Houston; Orlando; Charleston, SC; and a second home at Keesler Air Force Base, MS. There is a lot going on at the Foundation and the homes we are building will serve our military and veterans for decades to come. These Fisher Houses are built on partnerships. And partnerships begin with Department of Defense, VA and local communities. It’s what we do together that makes the greatest impact. We know that when it comes to our nation’s heroes, wounds of war — both visible and invisible — are felt by the entire family. Families struggle together, rejoice together, and heal together. Simply stated, having family at one’s side plays a vital role in the journey to recovery. As Chairman and CEO of this great Foundation, I pledge to you, we will continue to grow to ensure we meet the needs of all our military, veterans and their families. It is the very least we can do.


Kenneth Fisher Chairman and CEO Fisher House Foundation @KenFisherFHF

Fisher House Foundation is proud to partner with retirees from Local Union #3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), in New York City. Shown here from left to right is David Torres and Dick Mills, committee members; Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO Fisher House Foundation, and Dominic Malandro, Fisher House fund drive chairman. For the past five years the organization has donated $10,000, for a total of $50,000, from IBEW members and its sister chapters in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as proceeds from two golf outings each year. “We have a long-standing relationship with the Fisher family,” said Mills. “I am a former crew member of the USS Intrepid, which was brought to New York City over 30 years ago by Zachary Fisher. For this reason, and the incredible work the Fisher family has done for our servicemen and servicewomen, IBEW retirees chose to support the FHF.”



SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT Did you know what a special place Dover Air Force Base is? Located in Dover, DE, the base is home to DoD’s largest joint-service mortuary facility. Dover AFB is where our fallen service members come home to for the last time. Fisher House staff members were recently privileged to tour this facility – learning the grace in which the staff at Dover care for our fallen heroes. In 2010, a very special Fisher House was dedicated at Dover AFB to provide a safe haven for families coming to greet their loved ones and serving as a refuge for families. Our Hero Miles program provides additional assistance through the casualty office, ensuring families can be together during this time to heal. Thank you to everyone at Dover AFB for doing a difficult job with humility and honor.

FACEBOOK FEEDBACK “The Dover Fisher House is an oasis of calm in the midst of unbelievable insanity. The staff are amazing. I was there when my son was brought back from Afghanistan for the mortuary to prepare him for the final trip home. I was and am so grateful for such a wonderful place. I only wish their services would never be necessary for others.” — Mary Ellen W. “Thank you Fisher House Foundation for providing this safe haven for the families. No one can imagine what they are experiencing....pain, loss, grief, sadness...all at the same time. Bless you for providing this house for them while they get their affairs in order. ™ <3” — Gerry F. “Thank you for taking such good care of my brother and many others. We were given a picture of his plane coming in and then his casket being removed. Such respect shown. It is a beautiful picture we hold dearly. Thank you for the Fisher House, too!” — Jennifer W. “Would like to say THANK YOU to the men and women who watched over my Brother SSG JORDAN LOGAN BEAR, US ARMY KIA MARCH 1, 2012 I know y’all took good care of him and made sure he made it back to his home in Denver CO. Thank you again and God bless every one of you!!!!” — Jake B.

“My family and I stayed at the Fisher House when they brought my husband home. (WO1 Sean Mullen, KIA June 2013) I cannot say enough about how compassionate, welcoming and unobtrusive the staff is there. The facility and grounds are very nice and provided us with a private place to share our memories and our tears during what was the most difficult time of my life. God bless the founders and all who make the Dover Fisher House what it is!” — Nancy M. “I’ll never forget the angel who greeted me with the warmest hug I’ve gotten- beside my husband’s hugs. It was one of the hardest days of my life, but this staff and their unyielding devotion to me, my husband’s family, and my family was absolutely amazing. I think about that house from time to time, remembering nothing but the hospitality, grace, care, and compassion to name a few, that the staff showed us all. I know my husband was looking down and pleased. It’s nowhere you ever want to be, but if you must, there are truly angels working there. With all the sadness of that day, it speaks volumes that I only associate that house with love, warmth, and comfort. Thank you, Fisher House Foundation.” — Ashley W. To hear more about the Dover AFB Fisher House, please read the stories on pages 12 and 30.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION! Don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter and Instagram! Show us some Twitter Love at and share your story with us using the hashtag #FisherHouse!



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THE FISHER HOUSE PROGRAM REACHES 7 MILLION NIGHTS OF LODGING Fisher Houses have now offered 7 million nights of lodging to service members, veterans and their families since 1990. “I doubt my Uncle Zachary, who built the first Fisher Houses over 25 years ago, could ever have imagined providing seven million nights of lodging,” said Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation. Today, there are 71 Fisher Houses across the country, in Germany and the United Kingdom. These homes are much more than just a refuge or free place to stay. They also provide a place for the entire family to heal together. “For the first time since Afghanistan, my husband and I sat on the couch at the Fisher House and talked and laughed — like the old days,” said Macy, wife of a Navy combat veteran. “We finally felt like there was hope for the future that didn’t involve PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injury). Fisher House provided that hope and comfort for us.” Thank you to all those who made it possible for Fisher House to reach this milestone. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 1 • 2017


GUEST FAMILY PROFILE: The Mast Family Story and photos by Kerri Childress

NAME: Brian Mast HOUSES: Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Now closed) HOME: Florida MILITARY BRANCH: Army

RESOLVE TOOK BRIAN MAST FROM COMBAT TO CONGRESS VIA A FISHER HOUSE The War on Terror has seen no deadlier weapon than the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). No one knows this better than Army veteran Brian Mast, who lost 67 friends and both his legs to the war and to IEDs. SSgt. Brian Mast, US Army (Ret) was a bomb disposal technician, which meant that on each and every mission his job was to find deadly IEDs before his soldiers found them. “I know I saved many lives,” he said. “I loved my job. I was proud to serve. We were told that our missions would either be an initial success or a total failure. I never forgot that.” Mast spent 12 years in the Army, his last assignment to the elite Joint Special Operations Command, a job that placed him “at the tip of the spear in the fight against terrorism,” he said. In the lead on a dark September night six years ago in Kandahar, Afghanistan, an IED he didn’t find found him and blew him 10 feet in the air. He remembers painful tourniquets tightening on what was left of his legs and left arm, and he remembers getting loaded into a helicopter as his men give him a last salute. Someone said, “You’re going to be okay.” Then nothing — until he woke up at the then-Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, 15 days later with his wife, Brianna, putting cool cloths on his head. “Brian was a fighter from day one,” said Brianna. “He gave me strength, and yet I know that if my baby son and I had not been there, he would have been a totally different person. We gave him the will to live, the will to get better. He needed our strength as much as we needed his, and Fisher House helped make that possible.”



Brianna and her son, Magnum (now 7), stayed at the Fisher House for two months. Once Brian had regained his strength, he visited his family there off and on, mostly to play with his son. That was where they spent Christmas in 2010 and Magnum first met Santa Claus. “I will never forget, there were presents and even an ornament that someone had made just for Magnum. I was so moved and so touched,” said Brianna. “I wasn’t walking with God at that time, but God was certainly walking with me.” “It was an incredibly emotional time,” said Brian. “I didn’t know if I’d ever walk again, ever play ball with my son, ever be able to work again. I had a lot of time to think. I had defined myself as a soldier— jumping out of airplanes, roping out of helicopters, knocking doors in — it wasn’t a future for someone with no legs. Then I just decided that the best was not going to be behind me. I defended my country proudly, and I would continue to do so. That’s when I began thinking about possibly serving our country in Congress.” Brian wasted no time. Following his retirement from the Army, he continued his work in counter-terrorism as an explosives specialist in the Department of Homeland Security. He then went on to

study economics at Harvard. In the meantime, he and Brianna had two more children: Maverick (4) and Madalyn (2). In January, six years after losing his legs and a finger in that IED blast, Brian was sworn in as the Republican Congressman from Florida’s 18th District — fulfilling a goal he made for himself and his family in a DC hospital bed and a Fisher House. “I guess my dad summed it up best while I was in the hospital,” said Brian. “’You have to find a way to pull yourself up and get back to work. You can’t let your kids see you sitting on your butt.’ I had to keep fighting. For my family. For my friends who never returned from combat. And for my country.”

Congressional Reps Who Are Veterans Congressman Mast is one of 90 out of 535 members of Congress who has served in the military, only 20 percent. In contrast, veterans made up 73 percent of Congress in 1971. In the Senate today, 25 members are veterans.

Veterans in Congress 100% 75 Senate






0 1979-1980

Bottom Photo: Magnum, 7, playing outside.



Left Photo: Brian Mast talks with Maverick, 4, in front of their Florida home.



Top Photo: Brianna Mast holds their youngest child, Madalyn, 2 years old.

Source: Vital Statistics on Congress (2013 edition), The Brookings Institution PEW RESEARCH CENTER



Founder’s Day

at San Antonio Fisher Houses is All About

The Community Giving Back Story and photos by Kerri Childress

Zachary Fisher was surely looking down with a smile. What better It wasn’t Fisher House Foundation or the Army that made way to celebrate his birthday than a party with injured and ill this possible. Volunteers, corporations and individuals in soldiers, their families and medical caretakers. Called Founder’s the community who came together to provide the food, the Day, it’s a party that’s been happening every year on Zachary’s entertainment, and the camaraderie. birthday for the past 23 years at the Brooke Army Medical Center “I never served in the military, but I’m eternally indebted to those (BAMC) Fisher Houses. who did and are,” said Ken Hedrick, who volunteers with the This year’s celebration was no exception. More than 2,100 pounds Gonzales Youth Farmers and has been the Constable for Gonzales of brisket, 1,000 pounds of sausage and a 500-gallon pot of baked County for 28 years. “This is my small way of serving those who beans were served to more than 3,000 people. served, and we all feel that way. It’s why we’ve been coming for seven years now.” 6


Ken and his team of 13 men and a dozen teenagers arrived the day before the celebration with six huge smokers they had brought from Gonzales, 75 miles away. They started cooking the brisket in the evening, and for the next 12-14 hours the smoke did its magic to turn the meat into a savory lunch. “This event would be impossible without the many people who donate money, time and love,” said Inge Godfrey, the manager of the four Fisher Houses at BAMC. “We honor Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, who themselves generously gave of their time and money, too.” And it wasn’t just the Gonzales team — Kielbasa Corporation, USO, Wounded Warrior Project, Starbucks, and USAA were there to participate and serve those who serve and celebrate the founder of Fisher House Foundation. This event is something close to Inge’s heart too. As a manager who has been with the Fisher House program nearly since inception, she devotes much time and effort to this special day.

“This is all about the kids who have been injured,” said Jerry Akers, also a member of Gonzales Youth Farmers. “It’s not about us. It’s all about them.”

Founder’s Day, September 26, recognizes and honors Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, who built the first Fisher House in MD in 1991. “Where there is military, there is a Fisher House. Where there is a Fisher House, there will always be caring, warmth, security, and compassion,” said Zachary Fisher in the late 1990s.



Entries from Fisher House Guests Within the walls of each Fisher filled House guest suite are journals of a s with entries containing storie or just loved one, encouraging words, will rds a simple thank you. These wo g in be read by the next family stayin and ce that room, for them to find pea se hope. Here, we share a few of the s. words, written by our familie family What a blessing this was for my ch about and I. We were stressing so mu we were my husband’s condition and if that was going to find somewhere to stay affordable.

plus so The Fish er Hou se gav e us just that love muc h mor e. Tha nk you all so muc h! We you all!! Sem per Fi! er We would like to thank the Fish have y The lity. pita House for their hos day e sinc le smi a h welcomed us wit band one. Being here helped my hus . She one e littl our to and I stay close we’ve and on tati ges k was born 26-wee ays alw s, nth mo e been here for thre greeted with a smile.

I cannot be thankful enff.ough for the Fisher House sta



first night I If I had written in this book the tear drops on be ld came in I do believe it wou . every page. I am so moved

d encourage urn homee an I will ret and visit, e to my familythetore com knowing duringisthea lovviselyit. hom stay in

le my son, a I stayed at the Fisher House whi treatment. d eive rec disabled USMC veteran, ndly staff, frie st mo We were greeted by the ed. The com wel l fee immediately making us ul utif bea se the in hospitality was superb nts me nge arra accommodations. The our visit. lowered the anxiety concerning cted and xpe une are May the services, which ilable ava be to e most welcomed, continu come. to rs yea for ns to the family of vetera the of one e om The Fisher House will bec t. por sup programs that we will

God Bless everyone whoHowouserks. at and supports the Fisher




Washington DC’s WMAL Radiothon

Armstrong & Getty’s Radiothon

WMAL’s 13th annual radiothon for Fisher House raised more than $500,000 for the Foundation over one weekend in December. The two-day event featured first-hand stories from Fisher House families who spoke about Fisher House being there during their time of need. Their generosity has raised more than $5 million to Fisher House Foundation since the radiothon began.

California’s Armstrong & Getty have been supporting Fisher House through a weekend radiothon for the past four years. Their listeners contributed $700,000 this year, bringing their four-year total to $3 million.

Fisher House Foundation is so grateful for the support of all our radio partners who help spread awareness about the Fisher House program during the year.



Vietnam Veteran Lifts in To Raise Money for Fisher House

221 Tons Two Hours It was a feat that men half his age could never accomplish, but 66-year-old James Frick lifted 221 tons in a two-hour period, breaking the world record. And he did it to raise funds and awareness for Fisher House Foundation.

If you are interested in hosting an event to raise funds and awareness for Fisher House Foundation, please contact one of our fundraising staff at or check out our page at to learn more.

A 1972 West Point graduate, Frick served in Vietnam and said one thing drilled into him and his fellow soldiers was to never leave another soldier behind. “Not wanting to ‘leave behind’ fellow veterans, Fisher House Foundation seemed a perfect fit, with its excellent record of service to our military and veterans,” Frick said. “There are two VA hospitals with Fisher Houses near my home town of Tampa. Plus, friends and acquaintances have spoken very highly of the excellent services the Fisher House Foundation provides, allowing families to be with their injured loved ones in times of extreme hardship.” Frick used multiple weight machines, alternating among types that addressed three areas of the body — the lower body, abdominal and upper body. “In other words, I could not do 40-pound curls for an hour, which someone did recently for a world record, but I could do 200-pound curls for a few minutes, then 200-pound ab exercises, then 400-pound squats for two hours,” he said. “Even then, at about the 1 hour and 30 minutes, I was really exhausted,” said Frick. “My family was with me and reminded me of the veterans and their needs, plus all of the donors who I had promised to go for the 200 tons. That reminder gave me a shot of energy, and I finished well above my goal.”

SINISE VISITS THE Tripler Fisher HousE Dyllan Jones, 21, is the caregiver for his mother, retired Staff Sergeant Mitchell Jones, USMC, who is undergoing medical treatment. Dyllan was joined by actor Gary Sinise, who stopped by the Tripler Fisher House to visit with their families. Photo



by Anit a



ew Andr on Kayt ons onati D f o tor MD


MEET the Staff

Fisher House Foundation is comprised of many passionate and talented people. Each issue you’ll meet someone new who helps contribute to our mission of supporting our military, veterans, and their families.

Andrew Kayton Director of Donations In the 10 years I have been at Fisher House Foundation, it has been my honor to speak to so many of our donors and hear their stories about how Fisher House has played an important role in their lives. I never truly understood the full impact that having “a home away home” can play during the times of a crisis, or about my role in helping provide that home, until my family found the need.

I grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, and attended college with the intent of going into politics. I ended up in our nation’s capital where I met my wife, Laura, who made me realize that I could have more of an impact at a nonprofit than in politics. After eight years at the Foundation, Laura was 31 weeks pregnant with twins when we went to the doctor with some pregnancy complications. Our doctor told me to take Laura to a hospital that I had never heard of, in a part of town I had never visited, on the other side of the DC beltway, which meant fighting incredible traffic — terrifying for new parents.

Brody and Ella were born the next day, two months early, and would require a stay in the NICU for a month. Every day I would drive over at lunch and spend an hour with them in the NICU, and then return after work around 5:30. But, each day between 7 and 8pm, we would be kicked out of the NICU for nurses shift change, and we had an excruciating decision: head home for the night (an hour drive) or find a restaurant for dinner to pass the time (being new parents, we were on a tight budget). It was an excruciating time, made harder by the fact that we had to travel so far each day just to be with our kids. Today, Brody and Ella are happy and healthy three-year-olds keeping Laura and me in constant amazement at their misadventures. Looking back on everything, I realize just how privileged I am to be a part of an organization that makes sure other families are supported during a medical crisis.





Military service members, veterans and their families are supported by countless organizations who acknowledge their sacrifices. Here we feature a top-tier organization each issue.

WE SALUTE: American Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to our nation. Candy Martin, American Gold Star Mothers’ current President

Story by Ashley Estill

In 1917, Grace Darling Seibold’s son, George, volunteered for service when the US entered World War I. Grace received regular mail from her son, but one day it stopped. Grace began volunteering with hospitalized veterans in the Washington, DC area, hoping that she would find her son. However, in October 1918, George’s wife confirmed that George had passed. Realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, Grace devoted her time and efforts to work in local hospitals, while also supporting other mothers who had lost sons to their military service. In 1928, 25 mothers met in Washington, DC to establish American Gold Star Mothers. Since then, American Gold Star Mothers has provided comfort and support to mothers from all wars and conflicts. Candy Martin is the current president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Candy served 38 years in the Army and was still on active duty when her son, First Lieutenant Thomas Michael Martin, was killed on Oct. 14, 2007. “He loved life bigger than everybody,” Candy recalled. “He had such an infectious smile and was so kind, always reaching out to people.” “I had been familiar with other Gold Star Mothers for years, and when Thomas was killed in October, my application was dated in January. I found American Gold Star Mothers because I knew I was going to be able to work side by side with other mothers who had a similar situation. I had walked in their shoes, and they in mine.” Candy believes that being part of American Gold Star Mothers has helped her get through her grief by knowing that she’s doing something bigger than herself. There are currently about 1200 members in American Gold Star Mothers. Located throughout the 12


nation, these women, through their various chapters, do volunteer work and personal service in support of our nation’s veterans. Supporting our nation’s veterans and their families often brings Candy and other Gold Star Mothers to Fisher House. Their organization has been incredibly supportive of the Fisher House program, helping to raise funds and awareness for the Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the Fisher House at the Long Beach VA in California, and the Fisher House in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at their VA Hospital. Candy retired in 2013 from the Army. She continues to serve our veterans and their families through her work with Gold Star Mothers. “Our work helps other Gold Star Mothers adjust to their new normal and get involved. This work is our salvation.”

LONG BEACH VA FISHER HOUSE DEDICATION Thank you American Gold Star Mothers of Southern California, who raised the first funds for the Long Beach Fisher House. On April 29, 2011, they held a Tiara Tea to commemorate Prince William’s wedding. The Gold Star Moms went on to raise more than $150,000 for the home, which was opened on Oct. 19, 2016.

For more information on American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. or to support them,

Gold Star Mothers at the Fisher House Dover AFB Dedication Gold Star Mothers gather during the dedication of the Fisher House at Dover Air Force Base. This Fisher House serves families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. raised more than $80K for the special home.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY Fisher House Foundation would like to wish all the mothers currently serving, or who have children serving, a very Happy Mother’s Day. We are grateful for your service and sacrifices in honor of this great nation.

Photo above: Framed photos of the American Gold Star Mothers at the Dover Fisher House dedication, hangs in their national headquarters in Washington, DC. THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 1 • 2017




noun 1. An international code signal of extreme distress, used especially by ships at sea. Story by Tish Stropes, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

Sending out an SOS, a Hero Miles SOS. For the first time since the Hero Miles program began in 2003, the supply of airline miles is not merely at an all-time low but rather has practically disappeared, and we need your help. I’m not someone who typically asks for help. Then again, I don’t think most people are. For some reason people believe that asking for help will potentially make one appear as if they are weak. On the contrary, it is that fear of asking that gets in the way — ­ that fear of imposing on others yet ultimately depriving them of helping and being part of something greater than themselves. I like to help others; it feels good, it energizes me and feeds my soul. When you choose to put aside your personal fear and allow others to support you, we are all better off. To date over 63,000 airline tickets have blessed military families, allowing them to get to their loved one’s side when they needed it most. All because people like YOU choose to make a difference, to be the difference by donating your airline miles. So, THIS is Hero Miles sending YOU an SOS message. We NEED your airline miles today. Please be the difference by choosing to answer the call. For those who wish to make a monetary donation to Hero Miles, 100 percent of your donation will be used to purchase a flight to bring loved ones together.

La Quinta Inns & Suites and their Customers Donate 7 Million Points Thank you to La Quinta Inns & Suites and their customers for donating over 7 million points to Fisher House Foundation’s Hotels for Heroes program! Thanks to your generosity, these points will be used to house military and veteran families when a Fisher House is full. We are grateful for your support and partnership.



TEAM FISHER HOUSE Through year-long efforts, Team Fisher House has the ability to constantly reach runners, donors, companies, and friends of Fisher House. We are fortunate to have a wonderful community of support, and each year following the races, we receive uplifting emails like this one from Gina Nash, who truly felt the impact of supporting Team Fisher House. Hi Stacy[Team Coach], I have to say the whole experience of the race and Fisher House was really life changing for me. Your organization is amazing and it was an honor to run for Fisher House. This was confirmed for me when out on the course, ironically at the start of the Blue Mile, a young woman said to me, “Thank you for running for Fisher House, they were there for my family when we needed them,” and she filled me in on her story. Needless to say, we were two women hugging and crying at an already emotional point in the race, but this was something that truly inspired me and made me thankful for your organization as well, and so honored to be a part it and such a great event. I’m still on the fence about whether there is another marathon in my future. My loved ones may disown me if I put them through another training, but if there is I will most definitely be running for Fisher House. Thank you for all you did for me and my team — Semper Fi Boston Strong, you and your whole team compare to none. Have a great day!

-Gina Nash CORPORATE SPONSOR FEATURE: For the past two years, Superfeet has been supporting Team Fisher House. Each year, Superfeet gives back to charity, selecting charitable partners that make a positive impact in all the lives they touch. Their founder, Dennis Brown, was in the British Special Forces for 17 years through World War II. The Superfeet team has joined runners at the annual Marine Corps Marathon Pasta Dinner and cheered them on the following race morning. This year, they made sure volunteers and runners were well nourished by providing sandwiches at the close of the marathon. We are so happy to have them part of our team.




A Fisher House for All

Bridging the Gap Between DoD and VA By Rosemary Williams, Former Under Secretary for Public Affairs for VA

When I first joined VA in 2009, my Marine husband told me that public service would change my life. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how right he would be. During the next eight years, I was fortunate to lead organizations in both VA and DoD. One thing that became obvious during my service was that despite the wide array of programs and resources available to our military community, they weren’t enough to cover all the unique needs and requirements of our military and veteran communities. There remains a gap between DoD and VA that I refer to as “the unsupported space.”

family members who unfortunately fall outside of eligibility for DoD-sponsored travel: aunts and uncles, girlfriends, or inlaws. I have witnessed firsthand the comfort of a grieving family that finds solace in having all the family together during such a tragic time.

This service to our nation that Fisher House provides lives and thrives in the unsupported space and is unmatched. Simply put, no other organization provides this unfettered support to our nation’s heroes and their families, whether a WWII veteran or an active duty soldier and every hero in between. As you will see from the Enter Fisher House Foundation. remarkable stories that follow of care, hope and recovery, Fisher House knows no Fisher House Foundation helps to fill the boundaries when it comes to helping our gap with 71 comfort homes located at or military community. near military and VA medical centers. Additionally, Fisher House also operates the Hero Miles program, using donated frequent flyer miles and/or dollars to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members. Both programs also provide travel and hotels for survivors of the fallen, extended



Service certainly changed my life, but it is the service and support of the Fisher House that is truly changing the lives of our military, veterans and their families during their time of need, those who have given so much to protect our freedom and democracy. To view the full version of Rosemary’s Op/Ed, please visit www/

Rosemary Williams, former Under Secretary for Public Affairs for VA

Throughout your life, Fisher House is by your side The Fisher House program exists to support not only service members and veterans, but their families as well. Here we share three stories of families who called Fisher House their home, ranging from a baby to a combat-wounded service member, to a 93-year-old veteran.

A Young Family Calls Fisher House Home Story and Photos by Kerri Childress

In less than one week, Air Force Technical Sergeant Jeffrey Madden packed up his family and flew from Ramstein Air Force “Having a home-like environment for Base, Germany, to Washington, DC. This Bradley, where we can prepare his food and was all so his 13-month-old son could go ours, get him down for naps and just let him through a battery of tests and treatment for run around, is more important than I could a rare metabolic disorder that only a few ever say.” doctors in the world could treat. A month later, little Bradley Madden was all smiles In fact, Bradley took his first steps at the and running around hugging and kissing Fisher House. staff at the VA Fisher House in DC. “And there is no holding him back now,” said “You can only imagine how we felt when we Stacey Childs, manager of the DC VA Fisher were told ’your baby is very sick and needs House. “Every morning, I go looking for my immediate and specialized attention,’ said Bradley love. Just can’t start my day without Alyssa Madden, Bradley’s mother. “We just his smile and a hug.” grabbed what we could and got on a plane. We were so relieved when we found out “It’s not just the convenience of a Fisher there was a Fisher House just across the House, it’s the love and family environment here. When we need anything at all, it street from the Children’s Hospital in DC.” magically appears. We are so very grateful Children’s National Hospital, which sits on a for our home away from home,” said Alyssa. medical complex, includes the Washington, DC VA Medical Center, with a Fisher It was, after all, the Fisher House that House. There is no military housing nearby provided a place where they all took their and no hotels for miles. Even then, hotels first steps in this new normal. in the city are expensive, and traffic can be very difficult. “We can drive less than a quarter of a mile, take Bradley to two appointments, and be back for lunch,” said Jeffrey.



Marine Spends First Christmas After IED Blast at Fisher House Story by Marshall Adams

Eric McElvenny jokes he has five legs. Four are prosthetics — each serving a unique purpose ­— replacing the right leg the retired U.S. Marine captain lost to a land mine in the Middle East. The fifth, he teases, is the left leg he’s had all his life. The quip illustrates the accomplished athlete’s positive thinking that piloted his rapid recovery after he lost his leg. Within three months, Eric was walking between parallel bars. A short time later he was back on a bicycle. And swimming. Then, the football and baseball standout from Belle Vernon (Pa.) Area High School and the U.S. Naval Academy decided to embark on one of the toughest organized physical challenges known to man. “I quickly realized that there is a life after a traumatic injury, after an amputation,” said the Marine with the battlefield nickname “Captain Mack.” Eric deployed to Afghanistan’s violent Helmand province in August 2011. His mission ended when an IED blast knocked Eric on his back. The bomb claimed his right leg below the knee, damaged tissue on his left leg, shot shrapnel into his arm and caused a jarring concussion. At home in San Diego, Rachel McElvenny struggled to keep calm while awaiting her husband’s return to the U.S. and news on his condition. Their daughter Lupe, then 5, reacted differently — with joy and excitement. The military sent Eric to Naval Medical Center San Diego for treatment. His parents arrived quickly from Pittsburgh, and were always near him thanks to accommodations at the Fisher House next door.



“When you’re in that situation, you don’t think, ‘Oh, where are we going to stay? How are we going to get there? Should we rent a car?’ That’s not your mindset,” said Eric’s mother, Susan McElvenny. “You’re just, ‘Get me to the hospital — period.’” Eric says his parents put him at ease. “Every morning I looked forward to my dad coming up with coffee,” he said. “I think what the Fisher House helped provide was a constant presence.” The McElvennys celebrated Christmas 2011 at the Fisher House with a visit from Santa, Lupe riding a new scooter, and Eric venturing outside his fourth floor hospital room for the first time. Today, Eric and Rachel are raising three kids. Eric keeps busy with studies in Christian theology. The McElvennys remain grateful for Fisher House’s role in his amazing recovery. “Fisher House did a service for us that we really, really needed but didn’t even know we needed at the time,” said Susan.

3,000 hours in a F-14 Tomcat. Jack has 23,680 hours of flight time. This is absolutely remarkable and a milestone I’ve never heard anyone reach.” In fact, Jack is listed on the Smithsonian Institute Aviation Wall of Honor. It wasn’t until Jack retired from his civilian aviation career that he first stayed at the Lackland Air Force Base Fisher House in San Antonio, in 1994. He drove his pickup truck to the RV area on base and the RV manager there said, “It’s really hot to be sleeping in a pick-up truck. Why don’t you go across the street to Fisher House and see if they have a room for you?”

93-Year-Old Veteran Has Stayed at Fisher House More Than 50 Times Story and Photos by Kerri Childress

John A. (Jack) Sullivan’s aviation career spanned 43 years — during WII, Korea and Vietnam. He flew 51 different planes, including helicopters. A retired Navy Lieutenant Commander and a civilian pilot, he spent 23,680 hours in the cockpit. And, as if that were not enough, it is believed he holds the record for number of times staying in a Fisher House — 53 visits, each one ranging from one or two weeks to two months.

“I didn’t know what a Fisher House was, but when I walked in and saw the photo of the USS Intrepid, I knew I was in the right place,” said fighter pilot Jack. “I’ve since learned the history of Zachary Fisher, and I never miss a chance to tell people about this wonderful patriot and about Fisher House.” All but one of his children have stayed at the Fisher House with him over the years. His wife, Loretta, was affectionately known as one of the “Kitchen Crew.” She took it upon herself to make sure there was dinner for everyone each night. “Her meatloaf was the best, just the best,” said Debra Jean, Jack’s daughter. Jack lost his wife of 51 years some time ago, but she is remembered fondly at Fisher House. Jack still gets regular care for his heart, but it’s the bladder cancer that keeps him coming back to Lackland AFB every three or four months for testing and treatment. He’s recognized not only at the house, but throughout the Lackland hospital.

At 93 years old, Jack remembers clearly why he wanted to be a pilot in 1942: “Everyone was joining the military. And frankly, I didn’t want to walk!” Jack’s humor and enthusiasm for life shine through his Irish hazel eyes whenever he talks about his military career, “People recognize my hat,” said Jack. “And or his family of seven children. my Irish humor.”

“Jack is a living, breathing piece of naval The humor is quite special. When asked the aviation history,” said Brian Gawne, a secret to his longevity, he smiles and says, career Naval aviator and vice president “You just gotta keep moving. If you don’t, of community relations at Fisher House they’ll have a party without you and throw Foundation. “I flew for over 20 years and dirt in your face.” racked up 3,500 hours of flight time, which is a lot. There probably aren’t 100 guys with He chuckles and Debra Jean punches his arm. “Oh daddy, not everyone gets your Irish humor.” But this writer did.



Hearts in the Community

Cardinal Health, Inc. is a global, integrated healthcare services and products company, providing customized solutions for hospital systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices worldwide. The company provides clinically proven medical products and pharmaceuticals and cost-effective solutions that enhance supply chain efficiency from hospital to home. “Cardinal Health, our employees and our customers are passionate about honoring our nation’s military veterans,” said Jon Giacomin, chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical segment at Cardinal Health, a global, integrated healthcare services and products company based in Dublin, OH. “We are proud to align with Fisher House to fulfill a critical need for the families of ill or wounded veterans.”

“Fisher Houses allow the families of sick or injured veterans to focus on their soldiers’ healing,” Giacomin said. “We are honored to partner with Fisher House in their support of those who have so bravely served our country.” A Cardinal Health customer, Jon Plummer raised $7,500 from customers at Blountstown Drugs, in Blountstown, Florida. Jon said:

Cardinal Health Partners with Fisher House Foundation

I was very happy to support Fisher House because my cousin’s wife stayed at the Fisher House in Landstuhl, Germany when he was seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2005.

Cardinal Health’s partnership with Fisher House began last year when the company selected the Foundation as the beneficiary of charitable initiatives at its nationwide distribution centers and offices and at its annual national business meetings. Through fundraising events in facilities, online and live auctions, raffles and other philanthropic efforts, Cardinal Health raised more than $400,000 for Fisher House Foundation. These funds will be used to help build new Fisher Houses in Houston, Orlando, Dayton and Cleveland. Cardinal Health will again support Fisher House Foundation at its business conferences this summer, and is creating opportunities for employees and customers to donate time and money to the organization throughout the year.



At the Cardinal Health Retail Business Conference in Chicago last year, Jon Giacomin, chief executive officer of the company’s Pharmaceutical segment, and Fisher House president David Coker shared the mission and vision of Fisher House with Cardinal Health employees, customers and vendors.

Corporate and Foundation Giving Fisher House Foundation has been the beneficiary of many generous gifts, including corporations. Here we highlight two companies who continue to support the Fisher House program. Even more touching is that each company has employees who have been blessed by the Fisher House…

Lockheed Martin Vacation Donation Program Supports Fisher House Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology company. Through Lockheed Martin’s commitment to better serve its employees, the company announced their addition of Fisher House Foundation to the Employee Vacation Donation Program in May 2016. Lockheed Martin employees can donate their vacation time, and the dollar value of that time will be donated to Fisher House Foundation. “We are very pleased to add the Fisher House Foundation to our vacation donation program,” said Brad Fisher, director of Community Relations at Lockheed Martin. “Lockheed Martin has supported the Foundation and local houses throughout the country through corporate funding and volunteer projects. We’re delighted to expand our partnership and help the Foundation advance its very critical mission to serve our recovering warriors, veterans and their families.” Patti Blaeser, an employee at Lockeed Martin, was directly impacted by the Fisher House program:

My son was a resident at the Fisher House in San Antonio for approximately 20 months in 2010-2011 after suffering severe combat injuries in Afghanistan. I can’t begin to describe what a blessing it was to our family. We spent many hours there and have first-hand knowledge of its benefit to our injured veterans. So glad to have Lockheed Martin employees support this worthwhile organization.



Hearts in the Community


Dr. Stephen Boster’s Paintings

Hog Wild Fall Brawl

San Angelo, TX is home to the very talented Dr. Stephen Boster. Dr. Boster has a passion for painting that, over the past two years, he has turned into a cause to raise funds and awareness for Fisher House Foundation. The sale of the paintings has raised over $40,000 to date! His colorful artwork graces the homes of many in the local community while allowing Fisher House to build homes around the country. We are so grateful for Dr. Boster’s support.

Great Stoneboro Fairgrounds, PA was host to a Demolition Derby and Aut-Oberfest that featured a car show, BBQ fest, live bands, and demolition derbies for several classes of vehicles — and age ranges. It was a fun fall event which raised awareness and funds for Fisher House. Thank you for hosting such a great day for all the family to enjoy.


Fisher House Foundation is privileged to have amazing managers at our Fisher Houses. These professionals do a wonderful job taking care of the families that call Fisher House “a home away from home.”

Jennifer Kiefer

Milwaukee VA Fisher House

My name is Jennifer Kiefer, and I am thrilled to be the Fisher House manager at the Milwaukee VA in Wisconsin. I became the Fisher House manager when the home opened its doors to families in April 2016. Prior to the home opening, I was privileged to be part of the team to get the house operational and dedicated.

home with Lukas. It was a struggle to keep up with going back and forth, working when possible and still making sure Lukas was getting to school and giving him the attention he needed as well.

This is how I understand the struggles our Fisher House families face. When I get the opportunities to talk with the Before joining the Fisher House team, I was a social worker families staying at Fisher House, I understand their efforts to for the Polytrauma System of Care team where I provided case be near their loved one while day to day life continues, family management services to veterans diagnosed with Traumatic members are split up and work and responsibilities do not Brain Injuries, PTSD, and other severe illnesses and injuries. end. It is the Fisher House mission to take away as much stress It is a great honor for me to be able to work with our nation’s and challenge from these family members by making this “a home away from home,” and every day I am grateful to be a heroes and their families through VA. part of that mission. While I am blessed with an amazing family, many of whom have served our country, it is my daughter, Kennedy, who truly - Jennifer Kiefer led me to understand the need and appreciation for having Fisher House Foundation thanks Jennifer and all of our family by your side during a medical crisis. Fisher House managers who take exceptional care of our When Kennedy was eight months old, she was diagnosed with military and veterans’ families. a Wilms Tumor on her right kidney. She underwent surgery to have the kidney removed, as well as chemotherapy to prevent any other growth. Three years later, we found out she needed to have a kidney transplant. In a bittersweet way, I was blessed with the opportunity to give my daughter one of my kidneys. Despite the challenges and many hospitalizations over the years, it is a bond with her that I will always cherish. My husband Eric and I also have a nine-year-old son Lukas. During Kennedy’s hospitalizations we would take turns; one of us being with her in the hospital and one of us staying at



HOUSE ROUND-UP The Patriot always loves hearing from our Fisher House managers. Here are some highlights from houses around the world, submitted by our managers. ALASKA

JBER HOSPITAL Elmendorf AFB, AK Recently, the Alaska Fisher House was invaded by Captain Needa, several Storm Troopers and Darth Vader from the Aurora Borealis 501st Legion — Alaskan Outpost. Thankfully, our own Alaskan Aces Hockey team mascot Boomer came to the rescue and saved the day. A photo meet and greet took place showcasing multiple Star Wars characters and Boomer. All the kids received a light saber of their own to defend our house.

productive young adults. On-the-job training introduces these students to work environments that analyzes each of the student’s individual skills and needs. The goal ultimately is teaching the students functional skills of everyday life. At the Arizona Fisher House, students have the opportunity to develop the necessary job skills to create independence and confidence. Our home is a supportive environment in which our students are able to interact with staff, guests, volunteers and the local community. The impact of this partnership not only benefits the students but the Arizona Fisher House as well.


CAMP PENDLETON Camp Pendleton, CA Last year, 99 Cents Only Store in Oceanside, CA, hosted a shopping spree event for a group of military moms, “Stroller Warriors” of Camp Pendleton. Nine members participated in the event by having nine shopping carts, and 99 seconds to shop at this 99 Cents Only Store. All items collected during the shopping spree were donated to the Camp Pendleton Fisher House to enhance our daily operation and guest stay experience.




Tucson, AZ

Los Angeles, CA

The Arizona Fisher House is partnering with Community Based Instruction (CBI) at Pueblo High School where students who are cognitively delayed are taught skills to become independent and 24


Joanna Sims wanted so much for her father to walk her down the aisle, but he was being cared for at VA. Consequently, she brought the wedding to the West Los Angeles Fisher House. All



the residents were invited to attend as Mr. & Mrs. Dan Cieslewicz proudly presented their daughter Ms. Joanna Sims to wed Mr. Dennis Hall. It was a beautiful day for a beautiful bride and dad, both in tears.


The Gainesville Fisher House was honored to host a visit from the Fisher House Foundation Ambassadors. Jim Weiskopf, Vice President at Fisher House Foundation, and Fisher House Foundation Vice Chairman and Trustee, Nancy Edelman, talked with current and previous guests, Fisher House staff, hospital leadership, outside support groups, volunteers and donors. They both said how much they enjoyed their visit and were proud of the Gainesville Fisher House and the service it provides. In addition, two Fisher House Angel awards were presented during this visit, to Mr. Jim Piech and Alms Ministry, for their outstanding work at the Fisher House.

Palo Alto, CA The Palo Alto Fisher House, along with the healthcare facility, has been honored as recipients of Random Acts of Flowers. This volunteer organization recycles and repurposes flowers and delivers beautiful bouquets to the Fisher House and to individuals being treated at VA. During 2016, Random Acts of Flowers Silicon Valley hand-delivered uniquely crafted, recycled flower arrangements, free of charge, to almost 10,000 recipients. The 10,000th flower arrangement was to our Fisher House. It was a fitting way to mark such an important milestone for our organization and a terrific way to honor our veterans and their families.

MIAMI VA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM DAVID GRANT USAF MEDICAL CENTER Travis AFB, CA Delia Colvin, an Army veteran and international best-selling author, and Steven Gary, a guitarist and vocalist with six album credits, wanted to bring a message of hope and support to Travis Fisher House families last Christmas. They arrived with hats, reindeer antlers and candy canes for the children and a handwritten card to each family. They led families, friends and employees in song, which everyone enjoyed. Delia and Steven’s heartfelt efforts made our guests feel like they were home by bringing them comfort through familiar Christmas songs everyone could join in singing.

Miami, FL It’s time to rock! Cracker Barrel generously donated 28 classic white, wooden rocking chairs to the Miami VA Fisher House. Twelve of these beautiful rockers now grace the front patios of the Miami VA Fisher House, providing guests with a quiet place to relax. Our visiting patients love them, too. The Fisher House helped Cracker Barrel further support our veterans by coordinating the donation of the remaining chairs to the Community Living Center, Veterans in HUD/VASH and expectant mothers in the Women Veterans Program.







Fort Gordon, GA

Bethesda, MD

Col. Joseph Bird, Deputy Commanding Officer, and CSM Thurman Reynolds, Troop Command Sergeant Major, welcomed and greeted David Sparks, David Watkins, Clay Parks, Bill Johnson, Jessica Murphy and Thomas Callihan with Americas Home Place, a company that builds homes. The individuals were given a briefing and tour of the Fisher House by Mr. Cruz, Fisher House manager. Afterwards the individuals with America’s Home Place presented and gave a check donation to Col. Bird and CSM Reynolds for the Fisher House.

Mikaela Zurick, Sammy Polk, Maggie McGarrity, Malley McFarlane, and Sean O’Day are high school student project directors for "Two Schools — One Cause: Helping Military Families through the Battle of the Burn,” representing two schools in Ashburn, VA: Broad Run and Stone Bridge. Even though they are from rival schools, they have chosen to work together and to give back to our nation’s heroes and their families. Since last summer, they have been working on a community service project and a public relations project for our Fisher House.



BLANCHFIELD ARMY COMMUNITY Fort Campbell, KY The Republican Women’s Club of Logan County, Kentucky has been a great supporter of the Fort Campbell Fisher House. Over the past seven years, through their Pennies for Freedom campaign, they have raised over $8,300. We look forward to their visit every January.



STRATTON VA MEDICAL CENTER Albany, NY The Albany, NY, Fisher House experienced a holiday season of giving and kindness through the generosity of our community. Regular volunteers, veteran service organizations and local businesses all contributed greatly. We were supported by: The Green Island, NY, Stanley Steamer office group, who were so moved by the Fisher House mission that they decided to provide a complete carpet and furniture cleaning for our home at no cost. Our regular volunteer, Kathy Ader, herself no stranger to being away from loved ones during the holidays both as a military spouse and mother of an OIF veteran, prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner for our guests. Members of the American Legion Auxiliary, Joseph E. Zaloga Post, joined us for the 22nd year to set up holiday decorations and visit with families. Included in this group were Helen Baranowski and Ruth Zubinski, two of the original members who have provided this service since the opening of our home. Thanks to these folks and everyone else who has worked so hard to assist us here in Albany.


CAMP LEJEUNE NAVAL HOSPITAL Camp Lejeune, NC The Marine Corps League of WinstonSalem hosted the North Carolina Marine Mud Run for the 8th year with the proceeds going to the Camp Lejeune Fisher House and Wounded Warrior Battalion-East, among other organizations. Participants travel from across the country to participate in lots of obstacles, hills, climbs, fire houses and most importantly lots of mud! Members of the Marine Corps League visited the Camp Lejeune Fisher House to drop off a check for more than $1,400.

WOMACK ARMY MEDICAL CENTER Fort Bragg, NC Fisher House family members enjoyed decorating their own gingerbread houses this past Christmas. It was a wonderful tradition to bring to our home.

home thanks to the amazing smell. Bake Me Home is a non-profit group that was started by seven-year-old twin sisters and has been blessed to receive support from thousands of generous volunteers who share their passion for making the world a better place, one cookie at a time.


NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER, PORTSMOUTH Portsmouth, VA The Fisher House Portsmouth welcomed Jim Weiskopf, Vice President at Fisher House Foundation, and Nancy Edelman, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, and Ambassador from Fisher House Foundation to the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. A small luncheon was sponsored and held in conjunction with this visit. Leadership and staff from the hospital, volunteers, and in-house families were excited to be able to thank and offer their thanks for the tremendous support rendered to families. Additionally, several volunteer groups were honored and presented “Angel Certificates,” offering praise and heartfelt gratitude for their exceptional dedication. It was such an awesome day of thanks and joyful tears as we honored our “Angels.”


ZABLOCKI VA MEDICAL CENTER Milwaukee, WI Daisy Scout troop 20123, out of Canterbury Elementary in the Greendale School District, came to visit the Fisher House and provide handmade gifts to the guests. They wanted to see how many Daisy scouts they could fit in the handicap accessible showers and were very impressed to find they could all fit!



CINCINNATI VAMC Cincinnati, OH One day a week, the Cincinnati Fisher House is filled with the smell of freshbaked cookies. Bake Me Home has been supplying the Cincinnati Fisher House with these amazing cookies for the past several years. Each week, a new volunteer or group comes in to bake these treats, and a simple jar of cookie mix is left for the families at the Fisher House. The response from the families is overwhelming. The house, feels like

Seattle, WA For the first time in eight years, VA Puget Sound Fisher House held a holiday open house for VA employees. With five Christmas trees and an elaborately decorated house by volunteers, we thought it would be a great time to show off. We served handmade cookies along with apple cider and had an enormous turnout out from nearly every service line in the hospital. It was a tremendous success and will definitely become an annual event. Stephanie, Fisher House Manager, and Lorraine, the Development Director for the Friends of VA Puget Sound Fisher House, had a ball preparing the festivities. Join us next year! THE PATRIOT • VOLUME 8 • ISSUE 1 • 2017


HOUSE ROUND-UP FISHER HOUSES GET PATRIOTIC PONIES Fisher Houses at VA hospitals in Aurora, CO; San Antonio, TX; Hines, IL, and Salt Lake City sent in stories about being proud recipients of Patriotic Ponies donated by Scott and Trish Snyder of the Heroes Rock Project. The Hines Fisher House was honored to be the first stop on Scott and Trish’s “Hero’s Rock Thank You Tour.” The Snyders, hailing from Mantua, OH, built a lovely custom Patriotic Pony for Hines Fisher House in memory of Army Spc. Michelle Witmer. The pony proudly sits in the family room and is enjoyed by the children staying at the house. Scott and Trish delivered ponies to 12 Fisher Houses during their first delivery to the Western States. They truly put their hearts into these wonderful “hands of love” creations. The custom-built horses, exquisitely crafted, are meant to be used by children of Fisher House families. At the Denver Fisher House, they were additionally privileged to receive a visit from their soldier’s parents.

Below is a sentiment from Salt Lake City (SLC) Fisher House volunteers, Renee Tanner & Barb Utsumi, both Delta flight attendants. No doubt that Scott and Trish would be touched. There was a time I never prayed for those who kept me safe or those who died trying. I thought mainly about me. I didn’t wear glasses then, everything was perfectly clear. Until it wasn’t. 9/11 happened. I picked up the pieces and followed a broken road that led me to the SLC Fisher House. I can’t erase the images I have of 9/11, I don’t think any of us can. But a day like yesterday is one of the blessings of Never Forgetting. And sharing it with another flight attendant (like most things) made it even better. Barb and I helped welcome Hero’s Rock to the SLC Fisher House. They make rocking ponies for the children of Fisher Houses. The one they delivered was made to honor Army Spc. Jordan Byrd of Utah. He was a 19-yearold medic who was killed after sprinting 300 yards through an onslaught of bullets to take care of a wounded comrade. Jordan died using his body to protect him.



It was a sight to see so many motorcycles and a big trailer pull into the driveway. And it was an honor to spend the day with Hero’s Rock, the Honor Guard Riders, Fisher House guests, other volunteers and Jordan’s family. We remembered a young man who never got to see his little boy, Ayden, celebrate his 6th birthday. Or any of the previous five. It’s been 15 years and still the images remain. But new ones like this mend my heart. They make clear my purpose. I wish it didn’t take a tragedy to get me to where I am now, or so many years. I wish I always knew the power of kindness. How gratitude and giving can bring you unthinkable joy... and amazing days. Saluting our brothers and sisters who perished 15 years ago, may we stand united not only as flight attendants but as a Delta family. We have opportunities every single day to make a difference. We can choose love, it transforms our lives in countless ways.




r, TX edica l Cente M A V ey DeBak Michael E.

On October 19, 2016, a 16-suite Fisher House was dedicated at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System. The Long Beach Fisher House will not only create an instant community for its residents, but will also provide each family with a private and secure refuge after a long day at the hospital. Thank you to the local community, volunteers, and all who made this home a reality.

GROUNDBREAKING Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX

Ralph H. John son

Houston III Fisher House is on its way! A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 23. 2016, for the third Fisher House at the Houston VA medical center. This will be the first VA to have three Fisher Houses.

VA Medical Center, SC

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston, SC Nearly 200 people joined two Medal of Honor recipients, Maj. Gen. James Livingston and Cpl. Kyle Carpenter; the Deputy Secretary of VA, The Honorable Sloane Gibson; Chairman and CEO of Fisher House, Ken Fisher, the Mayor of Charleston, The Honorable John Tecklenburg, along with many other dignitaries for the groundbreaking of the Charleston VA Fisher House on Nov. 18, 2016. Orlando VA Medical Center, Orlando, FL

Orlando VA Med

ical Center, F L

The new Orlando VA and Fisher House Foundation celebrated the groundbreaking on a new 16-suite home on Nov. 30. 2016. Ken Fisher, Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy and Medical Center Director Timothy Liezert joined Becky Ziegel and Manuel Colon, who stayed at Fisher Houses, as principal speakers. Keesler Medical Center, Keesler AFB, MS We were excited to break ground on a second home at Keesler Air Force Base. The new home will feature 16-suites.

ter, MS edical Cen M r e sl e e K



A Special Manager for a Special Home Submitted by Captain Andre Bowser, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs Officer

After graduating from Basic Military Training in August 2002, Airman Basic Dorothy Shipe found herself with a month to spare before starting services technical school at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Fourteen years later, now married Tech. Sgt. Whitfield, said that month at the Lackland Fisher House in 2002 forever changed her life. While temporarily assigned to work at the local Fisher House, she met her future spouse. Over the month, Whitfield said, they fell in love and after two years were married. Whitfield, who is now the noncommissioned officer [NCO] in charge of the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, Dover AFB, Delaware, says her military career has come full circle, and it was all deeply influenced by the brief time she spent at the Lackland Fisher House. “I didn’t even know what the Fisher House was back then,” Whitfield recalled of her first encounter with the Foundation, where she literally started her military career working from the ground up. “I did gardening, picking up weeds, basic cleaning, and I didn’t really understand at the time the importance of my work.” In October 2015, 13 years after enlisting in the Air Force, and after her first brief stint at the Lackland Fisher House, Whitfield was selected from among her peers to serve as the NCO in charge of the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen. In a little over a year since taking charge of the facility, Whitfield has supported close to 200 grieving family members and supervised the managers on duty serving under her. She said she teaches her staff a simple rule that she learned early on in her service career. “You don’t know how someone feels, so one small gesture like a smile can lift someone’s spirit.”





Arlington, VA.

Friends of FH Conference Each year, the Foundation hosts a “Friends of Fisher House” conference, to gather community groups together to discuss best practices, guidelines and training. Here, attendees gathered together for the 2016 training, held in Arlington, VA.

Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc., Wright-Patterson AFB (and future Dayton VA Medical Center) It takes support from the on-base and off-base communities to make a program successful. In November 2016, the Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc. was blessed with an incredibly generous donation from the 100+ Women Who Care Dayton. This is group of women who are interested in supporting their local community in the greater Dayton, Ohio area. They come from all walks of life and varying financial backgrounds. They feel that as individuals it can be challenging to make a meaningful impact in their community, but as a group they have the ability to contribute to the growth of the community in ways that they never thought possible. Their mission is to reach out and help the community with 100 or more women pledging $100 on a quarterly basis to local charities. Their goal is to keep it local and have an impact that they can see in their communities. In mid-November, Chris Stanley, Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc. Executive Director received a visit and a generous donation of $20,900 (a stack of 209 $100 checks) as a result of the organization being selected as the quarterly recipient.

Murfreesboro, TN

Dayton, Ohio

’& DemosD’s r e t e P rants Restau


Tennessee Fisher House Foundation Three years ago in Murfreesboro, TN the Demos family of Demos’ Restaurants and local journalist Dan Whittle joined hands to offer the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation Whittlemania. This is a fundraiser that goes directly to the Tennessee Fisher House. The Demos family operates several Demos’ and Peter D’s restaurants in middle Tennessee and has been a strong community advocate and contributor to the Tennessee Fisher House. Taking the name from journalist Dan Whittle, Whittlemania has become an incredibly popular annual community fundraiser. Each year, members of the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation Board of Directors sell 2000, $10 tickets. Each ticket has two, $10 vouchers redeemable for food at the Murfreesboro Demos’ and Peter D’s restaurants. The entire $20,000 goes directly to support the Tennessee Fisher House. In the past two years, the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation has received over $40,000, and this year will be another amazing year for our Tennessee Fisher House.





RANGE Fisher House Foundation is building on its commitment to help military families

The following projects are currently in design or under construction:

Elmendorf AFB, AK (second house)

JBER Hospital

Orlando VA Medical Center Orlando, FL James A. Haley Veterans Hospital Tampa, FL (second house) Keesler Medical Center Keesler AFB, MS (second house) New Mexico Health Care System Albuquerque, NM James J. Peters VA Medical Center Bronx, NY Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Charleston, SC Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Houston, TX (third house)


JBER Hospital 4943 Zeamer Ave. JBER, AK 99506 (907) 222-1673 Manager: Jenny Hall

Washington DC VA Medical Center 50 Irving St. NW Washington, D.C. 20422 (202) 745-2482 Manager: Stacey Childs



Southern Arizona VA Health Care System 3601 S. 6th Avenue (9-135) Tucson, AZ 85723 (520) 838-3680 Manager: Kelly Laurich

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. Bay Pines, FL 33744 (727) 398-6661 x11350 fax: (727) 319-1106 Manager: Shentrela Diggins


Eglin Air Force Hospital 350 Boatner Rd. Eglin AFB, FL 32542 (850) 883-2865 Manager: Marc Ambrose

David Grant USAF Medical Center I, II 100 Bodin Circle Travis AFB, CA 94535-1804 (707) 423-7550 fax: (707) 423-7552 Manager: Charlene Hall VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (10AF) Bldg 523 Los Angeles, CA 90073 (310) 268-4457 fax: (310) 268-3499 Manager: Sharon Hudson

West Haven, CT

VA Connecticut Healthcare System


VA Palo Alto Health Care System 3801 Miranda Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94304 (650) 493-5000 x. 60384 fax: (650) 849-1269 Manager: James Crabtree Naval Medical Center San Diego I, II 34800 Bob Wilson Dr. Bldg 46 San Diego, CA 92134-5000 (619) 532-9055 fax: (619) 532-5216 Asst. Manager: Lori Erickson Naval Hospital Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Building 2014 San Jacinto Rd. Oceanside, CA 92058 (760) 763-5308 Manager: Kiana Bright VA Long Beach Healthcare System 5901 East 7th Street (FH) Long Beach, CA 90822 (562) 826-5905 Manager: Lana Toenjes

COLORADO VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System 1954 Quentin St. Aurora, CO 80010 (303) 399-8020 x. 2049 fax: (303) 364-4882 Manager: Tessa Levy




Fisher House for Families of the Fallen 220 Lajes St. Dover AFB, DE 19902 (302) 677-5317 Manager: TSgt. Dorothy Whitfield

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital 13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Tampa, FL 33612 (813) 910-3000 fax: (813) 910-3088 Manager: Paula Welenc Miami VA Healthcare System 1201 NW 16th St. Miami, FL 33125 (305) 575-7260 fax: (305) 575-7261 Manager: Carolyn Soucy West Palm Beach VA Medical Center 7305 N. Military Trail-Route 136 W. Palm Beach, FL 33410 (561) 422-5554 fax: (561) 442-8793 Manager: Shelley Prickett North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System 1601 SW Archer Rd. Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 548-6492 Manager: Michelle Howard

GEORGIA Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center One Freedom Way Augusta, GA 30904 (706) 729-5773 Manager: Anne Arnold Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center Fisher House Rd. - Bldg 280 Fort Gordon, GA 30905-5650 (706) 787-7100 fax: (706) 787-5106 Manager: Francisco Cruz

HAWAII Tripler Army Medical Center I, II 315 Krukowski Rd. Honolulu, HI 96819 (808) 433-1291 x. 28 fax: (808) 433-3619 Manager: Anita Clingerman

*Please direct all correspondence to the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher House, along with the specific house address. For any questions, please contact the Fisher House manager directly at the desired location.




Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital 5000 S 5th Ave. Hines, IL 60141 (708) 202-7154 fax: (708) 202-7155 Manager: Holly Wright

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System 6900 N. Pecos Rd. North Las Vegas, NV 89086 (702) 224-6789 Manager: Cadie Franco

Brooke Army Medical Center I,II,III,IV San Antonio Military Medical Center 3623 George C. Beach Dr. Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234 (210) 916-6000 fax: (210) 916-6488 Manager: Inge Godfrey


Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Bldg. 36015 Fisher Ln. Fort Hood, TX 76544 (254) 286-7927 fax: (254) 286-7929 POC: MAJ Paula R. Amundson

KENTUCKY Blanchfield Army Community Hospital 652 Joel Dr. Fort Campbell, KY 42223 (270) 798-8330 fax: (270) 798-8804 Manager: Wendy J. Carlston

Albany Stratton VA Medical Center 113 Holland Ave. Albany, NY 12208 (518) 626-6919 fax: (518) 626-5452 Manager: Michael Fitzpatrick



Malcolm Grow Clinics & Surgery Center 1076 West Perimeter Rd. Andrews AFB, MD 20762 (301) 981-1243 fax: (301) 981-7629 Manager: Janet Grampp

Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune 4 Recovery Way Camp Lejeune, NC 28547 (910) 450-3885 fax: (910) 450-3887 Manager: Josie Callahan

Womack Army Medical Center Walter Reed National Military Medical 3120 Loop Rd. Center I, II, III, IV, V Fort Bragg, NC 28307-5000 24 Stokes Rd. (910) 432-1486 fax: (910) 432-3825 Bethesda, MD 20814-5002 Manager: Lorie Southerland (301) 295-5334 fax: (301) 295-5632 Manager: Michael Ybarra


Walter Reed – Forest Glen Annex 2460 Linden Ln. Bldg 173 Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301) 319-5442 fax: (301) 295-8012 Manager: Maurice Borde

MASSACHUSETTS VA Boston Healthcare System 1400 VFW Pkwy. West Roxbury, MA 02132 (857) 203-4000 Manager: Elizabeth St. Pierre

MINNESOTA Minneapolis VA Health Care System I, II 1 Veterans Dr. Minneapolis, MN 55417 (612) 467-5602 fax: (612) 970-5864 Manager: Jessica Peterson

MISSISSIPPI Keesler Medical Center 509 Fisher St. Keesler AFB, MS 39534-2599 (228) 377-8264 fax: (228) 377-7691 Manager: Larry Vetter

MISSOURI VA St. Louis Health Care System 1 Jefferson Barracks Rd. St. Louis, MO 63125 (314) 652-4100 x. 66945 fax: (314) 894-6147 Manager: Vanniecia Brown

Cincinnati VA Medical Center 3200 Vine St. Cincinnati, OH 45220 (513) 475-6571 fax: (513) 487-6661 Manager: Karrie Hagan Wright-Patterson Medical Center I, II 417 Schlatter Dr. Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433 (937) 257-0855 fax: (937) 656-2150 Manager: Karen Healea

OREGON VA Portland Health Care System 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 (513) 220-8262 x. 57685 Manager: Barbara Decoito-Weaver

PENNSYLVANIA VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System University Drive C, Bldg 33 Pittsburgh, PA 15240 (412) 360-2030 fax: (937) 656-2150 Manager: Heather Frantz

TENNESSEE Tennessee Valley Healthcare System 3400 Lebanon Pike Murfreesboro, TN 37129 (615) 225-5758 Manager: Becky Wood

Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center 1201 Broad Rock Blvd. Richmond, VA 23249 (804) 675-6639 fax: (804) 675-5979 Manager: Wayne Walker Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth 853 Fisher Dr. Bldg 287 Portsmouth, VA 23708 (757) 953-6889 fax: (757) 953-7174 Manager: Jill Thompson


Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center I, II 2002 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX 77030 (713) 794-8095 fax: (713) 794-7194 Manager: Frank Kelley

Madigan Army Medical Center I, II 9999 Wilson Ave. Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433 (253) 964-9283 fax: (253) 968-3619 Manager: SFC Marissa Richardson

VA North Texas Health Care System 4500 S. Lancaster Rd. Bldg 79 Dallas, TX 75216 (214) 857-2574 fax: (214) 462-4923 Manager: Lydia Henderson

VA Puget Sound Health Care System 1660 South Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 (206) 768-5353 fax: (206) 277-1415 Manager: Stephanie Toepp

South Texas Veterans Health Care System 7485 Wurzbach Road San Antonio, Texas 78229 (210) 617-5300 x. 16626 Manager: Erik Zielinski


Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center I, II, III San Antonio Military Medical Center 1445 Foster Ave. Bldg 3865 Lackland AFB, TX 78236 (210) 671-6037 fax: (210) 671-6020 Manager: Philip Harralson William Beaumont Army Medical Center Bldg 7360 Rodriguez St. El Paso, TX 79930 (915) 569-1860 fax: (915) 569-1862 Manager: Alice Coleman

UTAH VA Salt Lake City Health Care System 690 S. Valdez Dr. Salt Lake City, UT 84148 (801) 588-5900 Manager: Quinn Kiger-Good

Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center 5000 W. National Ave. Bldg 150 Milwaukee, WI 53295 (414) 384-2000 x. 44570 Manager: Jennifer Kiefer

GERMANY Landstuhl Regional Medical Center I, II CMR 402 Box 669 APO, AE 09180 011-49-6371-9464-7430 fax: 011-49-6371-866679 Manager: Vivian Wilson

UNITED KINGDOM Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Mindelsohn Way Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham B15 2TH 0121-472-6217 fax: 0121-4130-6897 Manager: Patrick Hogan

VIRGINIA Fort Belvoir Community Hospital 9201 Woodbury Rd. Ft. Belvoir, VA 22060 (703) 805-5203 Manager: Roxannamaria Calderon



Fisher House Foundation, Inc. 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420 Rockville, MD 20850-5000

Because we

our heroes.

For more than 25 years, the Fisher House program has provided “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. These homes provide free temporary lodging to military and veterans’ families so they can be close to their loved one during a medical crisis, allowing them to focus on what’s important — the healing process. Due to the generosity of people like you, Fisher House Foundation is able to build and help support the operation of more than 70 existing homes, the core of our mission. Additionally, our Hero Miles program assists with travel needs, and our scholarship program offers educational opportunities to military children and spouses. With your help, we will continue to meet the needs of our military community today, and long into the future. Show your love by making a donation to Fisher House. To learn more, please visit or call (888) 294-8560.

Fisher House Foundation

CFC Code: 11453

©2017 Fisher House Foundation Creative services donated by ds+f, Washington, DC | Photo courtesy of Craig Orsini.

The Patriot Volume 8 Issue 1  
The Patriot Volume 8 Issue 1